At eight-thirty Tuesday morning Sara was reviewing her schedule for the rest of the week and getting ready to make her daily calls. She had three client meetings this week, and fifteen calls scheduled for today. Two of the meetings would be at the customer's place of business, one would be coming to her office tomorrow to tour the production facility and hopefully sign a contract. Of all her calls there was only one name she didn't recognize.
One of the customer service reps had added a Michael Cavanaugh to her calendar, a potential new client, from an inquiry received on their website. She scanned the details of his inquiry and the contact information he had provided to them. She both hated and loved the first conversation with a prospective customer; it was a foray into the unknown. Sometimes it turned out great and a new business acquaintance was made, other times the voice on the other end of the line was an irrepressible bore or just plain asshole whom she would have to call for weeks, perhaps months, before finally being blown off or, sometimes worse, sealing a deal. If she actually made a sale, she'd be forced to interact with the moron for years, and in the worst cases she'd almost rather lose the commission than have to deal with an idiot she couldn't stand.
She also had to find the status on three sets of production drawings so she could put orders into production, reschedule shipping dates on two jobs currently in house, and follow up with nine buyers on their orders, one of whom she'd be meeting for the first time on Thursday. She'd been working with J. Herzog for almost three years and still didn't know what the "J" stood for. He had been so evasive about it over the years, always telling her to call him "Jay", that she was determined to find out his actual first name when she was at his office in two days.
The phone rang.
Sara looked at it for a minute, thinking what now, and then lifted the receiver in the middle of the second ring and said, "Good morning, this is Sara."
"Sara, it's Andy." His tone was flat, all business.
"Hi, Andy. What's up?" Sara prayed he wouldn't say anything about Friday. Please, Dear God, don't let him mention anything about Friday. He hadn't called at all yesterday, which wasn't unusual, but she'd been dreading the first conversation with him since their encounter in the supply room.
"Um, I have a, uh, problem." He sounded flustered, his words oddly punctuated with pauses, as if he were unsure of his wording. Andy was usually all business, curt but not unpleasant. "There's an issue with supplies."
Christ almighty. "Andy," she let her irritation come through in her voice, "our supply problem has been resolved. Conclusively."
"I don't think it has." Andy sounded doubtful, as if there were something else going on in his mind, but Sara ignored it.
"I do. Goodbye." Sara dropped the receiver onto the cradle. I told him, one time, she thought. Now I get this shit.
The phone rang again.
Sara reigned in her annoyance, took a deep breath in through her nose, let it out slowly through her mouth. She lifted the receiver. "Good morning, this is Sara."
"Sara…" Andy could barely get her name out before she cut him off.
"Andy, we're not doing this." Sara hung up.
There was a knock at her door, giving her the briefest notice before Ben pushed the door open and peeked inside.
"Jerry's on the warpath." Ben looked grim.
Sara tried to shift gears, leave Andy and his phone calls behind and catch up to Ben's conversation. "What's up?"
"You know his personal letterhead? That crap he's had forever?"
"The ugly stuff?"
"That's the one."
"Yeah." Sara leaned back in her chair, wondering what the big deal was. Everyone hated that letterhead, but Jerry, the owner of the company, loved it and refused to stop using it. Since the printer had gone out of business, he claimed that no one else had matched the quality of his old letterhead and had kept his remaining stock as a sort of Holy Grail of stationery locked in the supply room. No one ever touched Jerry's letterhead for fear of his wrath.
"Somebody trashed it." Ben looked over his shoulder into the hallway and then turned back to Sara.
"There's a whole stack that's crumpled. Someone must have just grabbed it and crushed it in their hands. It's a mess." Ben shook his head. "Heads are gonna roll."
"Seriously?" Sara couldn't believe anyone would be stupid enough to mess with Jerry's personal stationery. It was probably grounds for termination in the world of personal affronts and prejudices in Jerry's labyrinthine mind.
Sara got up from her desk and walked out into the hallway with Ben, both of them glancing down towards the supply room. The door was wide open and the short, blocky form of Jerry obscured the view beyond. Sara walked down the hall and stopped a few feet short of Jerry, knowing that getting too close might not be the best thing at this particular moment.
"Jerry?" She kept her voice low and quiet, the tone she used when she had to tell him she had lost an account or any other bad news.
Jerry spun on his heels. His face was a storm cloud ready to explode. "Do you know anything about this?" He waved one hand back into the supply room and moved to the side, giving Sara a view of his personal crime scene.
The chair to which she had pinned Andy sat in front of a shelf, and on the shelf, right where her hands would have touched while she was atop him, was a crumpled pile of Jerry's personal stationery. She knew what must have happened and tried to reconstruct the events in her mind, but couldn't remember anything definite. It must have been their encounter. In the wild throes of lust, she must have grasped the shelf and destroyed the sacred paper; there was no other explanation.
"What happened?" She had to think fast, had to come up with an believable story. Maybe just claiming ignorance would work.
"Someone just signed their own termination notice is what happened." Jerry was fuming. She'd never seen him this angry.
"Who would do this?" Lack of knowledge was the best ploy she could come up with on such short notice.
"I'm going to find out." Jerry put his fists on his hips. "And when I do, there'll be hell to pay."
Sara had to know what he was planning so she could avoid blame. "But how? No one will admit to doing this."
"They don't have to." Jerry stepped back into the supply room and pointed up towards the ceiling.
Sara moved inside the room with him and looked up. There, in the corner where the wall and ceiling met, was a security camera aimed into the room. Shit, she thought. Motherfucking shit. I'm screwed.